The Global Virtual Classroom Project

Although, I had heard much about the Global Virtual Classroom Project, (GVC Project), which was founded by Janet Barnstable, my classes have not been involved before due to the nature of our school years. The original projects spanned 6  months but as schools in Australia enjoyed their long 5 week summer break and then started a new school year, it was impossible for me to have a consistent class that could complete the project.

However, a mini-project was introduced this year and this was more manageable for the school calendar. It did span across semester 1 and 2, and my ICT elective students changed over this time, but we were able to participate due to the willingness of our partner school and teacher Yunchai Chen, Wunshan Senior High School,Kaohsiung, Taiwan to condense the project to fit in with the first term of our semester 2.

What I liked about the project:

  • strong support from the leadership team of Janet Barnstable USA and Lakshmi Srinivas of India.
  • being partnered with a school in a similar time zone. We could actually communicate virtually in real time using skype
  • Yunchai Chen had been part of the project before and was therefore experienced.
  • the tools used were user friendly and free
  • the project was flexible to fit in with specific needs
  • students in Taiwan and Australia could choose their own global topic. They chose Oceans
  • an awards process to acknowledge work completed

Both countries are islands. As we live 25 minutes drive to the closest ocean and seas, and as our beaches are beautiful, students felt comfortable with the topic and had some basic knowledge. As the Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s big tourist destinations, Warrnambool’s Logan beach is a nursery for the Great Southern Whales and Port Fairy is a nearby quaint village (which started out as a whalers station), the students had plenty of scope for ideas.

The tools used:-

  • email for teacher correspondence
  • edmodo for sharing of conversations, files and other needs (student and teacher use)
  • google sites – was chosen by Yunchai and me to display the student outcomes
  • skype for synchronous virtual connections
  • Windows MovieMaker to produce the videos – my student choice

The time frame was tight – approximately 6 weeks, but this gave students a sense of real time pressures that they may face in the work place. Three students produced videos – Tim’s was on Ocean Life in SE Australia; Port Fairy, Bethany’s favourite beach and Sophie chose to produce a movie on the Great Ocean Road.

To the delight of the students, a silver award certificate was granted for the collaborative Oceans project. Our certificate can be seen below.

silver award gvc301 Silver Award Australia

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Imagina Books – VR/AR for learning

human body

Imaginer Books on Kickstarter

Virtual reality and Augmented Reality are of high interest to me, but I  am still a little uncertain as to  they can be used in the classroom. I have purchased a VR headset recently. I can place my iPhone into the headset, watch 360 degree videos and use “google card” apps to take virtual tours. But….. is AR just a fleeting gimmick or how can learning be enriched with this technology.

I received an email last week from Hisham Hosni of Livit Studios who, like many of us, firmly believes that education is the most important aspect of a child’s life. Their vision at Livit Studios is to use Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in delivering a better and more enjoyable educational experience for our children. Apple has officially supported AR on IOS, so that the iPhone and iPads are AR-Ready.

This week, their Kickstarter campaign was launched at Imagina Books  The Human Body Augmented Reality Book certainly shows how AR/VR can make learning richer.  It can be read on both android and IOS devices. The real value of VR and AR now comes to life as students can see exactly how parts of our human body work, not just through static images but through living, vibrant 3D views, where they can take a virtual tour of human organs and body parts. The book and app  display the actual beating of the heart making  for  deeper understanding how the heart actually looks and works.

If you are interested in learning more, please visit their website,  see the press kit and some pictures and videos showcasing the product at Imagina Books Press Kit. There is also a Facebook page and  a Twitter account.  This would make a great gift for my grandchildren!

Let’s hope there are many more products like this to aid in learning using VR/AR technology.

The global collaborator: Discussions on #SDG11 – India/Australia

The United Nations have adopted a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG goals) in a bid to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.

One of the new ISTE Student Standards is the Global CollaboratorStudents use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.

Sustainable Development Goal no. 11  of the United Nations SDG goals is to  “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

Both these goals were put into practice by communicating and connecting over skype  with Anu Sharma a teacher in New Delhi, India and year 8 her students. Her students were studying SDG goals, in particular the Sustainable Cities aspect. They wanted to discuss problems relating to traffic – pollution etc in our countries. The first connection was a mystery skype ( to work out what country each of us were from).

The second  involved discussions about traffic rules, how they work in each of our cities and the road signs that we use. Anu’s students would do some research work and find possible solutions to the prevalent problems, which would then be discussed in the second skype connection. Her students made display boards, PowerPoint presentations and prepared speeches.

hawkesdale sign

The main road through Hawkesdale

Dirt tracks around Hawkesdale

At first, I was reluctant. Our school is in a town with a population of 220. There is not much traffic and little or no pollution. Some of our roads are dirt, and the majority of vehicles comprise trucks, buses and through traffic. Their city in contrast has a population of more than 21 million, pollution is of high concern and there is high traffic usage.  However, we do have some problems with the health of our roads, slow moving vehicles eg tractors and animals such as kangaroos on the roads and although it is in stark contrast to Delhi could make good learning comparisons.  Australia ranks 20th on SDG index and India ranks 116th.

However, I agreed to connect. As most of my classes are in the morning, this did not match with the Indian times. The ideal connection would have been my year 8 ICT class communicating virtually.  Instead, I asked some students if they would come in at lunchtimes to connect. It was 1pm our time and 8:30am Indian time.

 

The three sessions that we connected were fascinating. My students had to listen intently to the accents of the Indian participants to ensure we could understand their speaking. It was much easier when they shared their screen and showed the powerpoint presentations, with imagery and some text. There were some similarities but many, many differences, some of which shocked us.

Similarities:-

  • many of our road rules were the same.
  • the majority of our road signs were similar
  • each country suffered from major potholes, but ours were caused by trucks, milk tankers, rain, poorly sealed roads, some of theirs were caused by earthquakes.

Differences:

  • sheer population numbers
  • traffic jams of gigantic proportions (their are no traffic jams in our local area)
  • Our traffic is light, theirs was incredibly heavy and busy
  • Pollution was heavy in Delhi, light in Hawkesdale
  • Another gaping difference was the method in which the potholes are repaired. They  showed pictures of 20 – 30 people working on the roads compared with us in Australia, using advance machinery and equipment.

Outside their comfort zone

Video call snapshot 308

A plea from one of my colleagues in India, Anamika Jha, for some of my students to videoconference (skype) with hers came at a time when I had my year 9/10 ICT class. She teaches at SD Public School, Delhi. Many of my students were absent and I was not certain that the students who were in my class would be confident  enough or even willing to talk to her students. It would be well outside their comfort zone.

However, I did have two girls who were looking rather disengaged so I asked whether they would connect. As expected, they were reluctant but finally agreed. The skype call came in and I took them up to one of our small meeting rooms. Fortunately, the students from India were super confident, well prepared and surprisingly my girls appeared to understand them. The first question was asking the girls to share something about Australian culture. This flawed them and there was no response! Not to be deterred the Indian students proceeded to talk about their many religions, days of celebration and important people.

Video call snapshot 303

Next question was whether the girls watched Indian movies or knew any of their famous actors – again negative comments! At this point, I disappeared to find some objects of Australian culture – food, animals, sports equipment etc. When I returned the girls had relaxed and were highly engaged in conversations around favourite books, music, school subjects, sports, hobbies, money and the weather. The looks of boredom that I had seen 20 minutes before had changed into engaged, smiling and animated faces as they chatted away.Video call snapshot 307

It reaffirmed that it is often best for the teacher to step right back and let the students work out the accents, speed and clarity of speech and to let them take control of the direction of learning.

Small groups of students connecting cross countries, cross cultures, different accents, speed of speech can have rich learning outcomes.

Feedback from their teacher

thanks maam
for this nice conversation with your students
my students were really excited to have words with your students
tomm.

Read Bridie’s blog post. and Georgia’s post

Tel Aviv Virtual PD

Video call snapshot 300.png

The use of technology tools allows us to connect with others in ways that would not normally be possible. I live on a farm, in a relatively remote part of Victoria. The distance, cost and effort of attending professional development prevents me from attending many professional development programs that may be readily accessible by my peers and also prevents me from presenting and sharing my work.

However, tools like skype, ghangouts, zoom, blackboard collaborate etc break down those barriers. One of my colleagues, Hili Zavaro who I recently met on twitter, invited me to present to teachers in Tel Aviv, Israel for a short time on “what the teachers can do to open their lessons to the world through global projects”?

It is interesting that the teachers from a variety of schools and year levels were meeting on a Sunday at 6pm my time and Sunday morning for them. A recent  presentation given at EduTECH was shortened  and a link to the document that was set up for ISTE 2017 was given so they could get some ideas on where to find people/classes to connect with, hashtags to follow on twitter etc.

We used skype to connect. I was in my warm winter clothes, they were dressed in cool summer clothers. After playing a brief “mystery skype” so the teachers could work out where I was from, I shared my screen and the presentation. Time was given for questions – one of which was “how do I use twitter for global connections?”. At the close of the session, I clicked the + button on skype, sent through the powerpoint presentation and the photos I had taken when I clicked the + button on skype and chose ‘take a picture’.

This did take 30 minutes but was a rather amazing experience for me, as in the past Tel Aviv has featured strongly on our news as being and area of conflict etc, yet here I am presenting to them as though there were no walls, barriers or oceans between us.

Video call snapshot 301

 

 

 

 

Technology Tools, Apps and Software- Hacked

The last session I attended at Hack Education on the day prior to the official start of  ISTE 2017 was simply called Technology Tools.  As I am always looking for new tools and ways to use existing tools, I chose to attend this fast paced session. Below are a list of the tools that were suggested. Participants were asked to share some of their favourite tools and some of the new tools they were using. My notes follow:

Evernote, breathey (free listening on soundcloud), text expander

Google classroom

Post it plus for exit slips, brainstorming etc

Buncee – animated presentations

Loom – screen casting

Iphone clips for very short videos – can add a lot of things

https://studio.stupeflix.com/en/

mysimpleshow – storyboarding and steps students through to movie making. Telling stories – whiteboard writing. Generate script and it makes it into a writing movie.

Autodraw is a google product. Draw and it guesses what you are drawing.

MS Sway – multi media, easy to use, effective presenations, newletters etc

Answergarden – brainstorming, relfections, existing knowledge etc

Mentimeter – interactive presentations

Peekapack – social and learning platform, character building

tagxedo               – visual data dropitto.me (is now gone)

soundtrap – Make music online web based, can collaborate

recap app is free, a question and answer platform

wriQ – google addon When put essay into it, it will find the spelling mistakes. To grade essays, research papers etc Pull document up, goto screencastify can give oral feedback rather than writing comments. Google has voice comment.

ISTE blog post – 9 edtech tools to help with essay writing.

Noredink – For better writing – personalized. Free version. No one student will get the same problem as another student.

Some kids translate their work into another language, then translate it back again and it is different enough not to look like plagiarism.

Scavenger hunt- 5 egs of sentences that were plagiarized and they had to pick them out on a topic they were interested in. Kids had to pick out the basics of plagiarism.

Macintosh dictation – used with google docs.

Seesaw.me Student portfolio builder – have 6 blocks which can be picture, video. Can save all their work for the year. If tag animal, it can appear in student’s own folder plus the animals folder.

Chatterpix– Make your pictures talk – add a mouth, do a vocal and pic ends up talking  Parents can get notifications from it.

Google forms– surveys

Bucket feeling – how do you get to fill each other buckets – setup google form, fill Ryan’s bucket and form goes out so each teacher fills in each other teachers forms. Steve is a PE teacher who teaches the whole student. Done with 22 teachers. Everybody feels underappreciated.

Business start by saying why you did well. Digital breakouts are good as the locks and the boxes in common breakout edu  it is hard work

Digital breakout – less time to create one of your own. Google that term – it will take you to the breakouts. Have a digital lock to enter the codes rather than have a lock and key. Don’t have to buy all the locks. App for breakout lock http://www.breakoutedu.com/digital/

Do a digital breakout together with the students. Can solve breakouts over time.

Stations – middle school science – sorting activity with 3 columns.

Review is done by digital breakout rather than test.

 

 

Makerspace – ISTE Unplugged Notes

IMG_2892

These are my notes from the second session that I attended at Hack Education on the day prior to the official start of  ISTE 2017 The topic for discussion was Maker Spaces.

Teachers shared their thoughts on what a maker space looked like. A maker space is like a Tinkerlab. Makerspace in the library may be tactile. Storage and organization are the key. One teacher talked with students to see what  they wanted to learn and do – maker space grew out of there.

Genius Hour

  • The Passion-Driven Classroom: A Framework for Teaching & Learning by Angela Maiers and Amy Sandoval
  • Amazing things can happen if….
  • What do you want to learn and do

Growth Mindset

China calls STEM the Maker Education Movement. It is public, being promoted in schools in China and supported by the government.

How do I better integrate into the  the idea into curriculum?

  • It takes time, starts small with teachers that are interested, autonomy, PTA helps by giving money
  • Meet with teachers and plan together to support the standards. It is not stand alone, you work together
  • Come organically from teachers
  • How do I get teachers on board?
    • Started as a STEM school
    • Have teachers do hands on learning themselves so they are comfortable with the materials in the space
    • Shark Tank pitch to staff
      IMG_2895

Another school has developed a Eureka lab – @sfisher_mb

  • Design thinking
  • Clean space VS. dirty space
  • Organization and storage are key

Tech lab was turned into Maker Space. It became Geek Space where all the kids who do not play sport hang out.

IMG_2912

After school and before school dropins. Incorporate design thinking into school. Redeveloped computer lab and now use some of the school theatre. There are two spaces:

  • Clean space: scissors glue guns etc
  • Dirty space: more like sawdust, 3D printers, embroidery/sewing machines, vinyl cutter, arts and crafts recyclables, computer driven drill bit – 2D design on computer than cut out on machine.

Libraries have been removed in some states.

One school started with maker spaces with a couple of teachers but has now grown exponentially. Converted computer lab into STEAM teaching space – bought educational toys – speros, ozebots. Got teachers to play with it. PTA gave money for innovation grants – $100 each. Teachers had to buy some things eg makey makey. Meet with teachers look at the standards, create design briefs and add on to what you are doing.

Kids are afraid of failure so won’t have a go.

Fun toys in a Makerspace

  • Robots
  • Ozobots
  • 3D printers
  • Spheros
  • Makey makey
  • Bee- Bots

Low Tech items for the makerspace

  • Recyclables
  • Task cards (pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers)

3d print a fidget spinner

Tool used for reflective piece:

  • wevideo
  • Flipgrid – used to show their creations and reflections.
  • Google slides- students take pictures and discuss what worked well
  • Regular blog posts

Use Saturdays to allow students and families into schools and makerspaces.  That is HUGE and big buying power.

Slide deck of makerspace projects in the curriculum (from conference presentation last week, with Cranbrook School, in MI)

Mobile makerspace?